The curtain rises on a Saturday afternoon show along Guanella Pass Road.
The performers only have a few weeks every year to draw sellout crowds, and this year’s show is expected to have a very limited run — shorter than usual.
The lighting is perfect. The audience takes its place. The wind effects are a bit too strong, but the performers say, “On with the show!”
This weekend, thousands of people streamed up and down Guanella Pass to catch the changing fall colors among Clear Creek and Park counties’ aspen groves, and the Silverdale trailhead above Georgetown was an especially popular stopping point.
Families took photos among the bright yellow leaves, groups hiked along gold-and-green-covered trails, and everyone was excited to see what might be a rare and short-lived sight this year, thanks to dry conditions statewide.
Denver couple Naveen Kumar and Harika Thamidhapati visited Silverdale for the first time Saturday afternoon. The two took pictures with their 2-year-old daughter, Liya, and friend Bhavana Govindareddigari.
Kumar said he had researched where the foliage was changing near Denver and headed for Guanella Pass. The group could see the Silverdale aspens’ bright colors coming up the road and decided to stop.
While Kumar has been leaf-peeping before in Washington and Virginia, he said his wife hasn’t, which motivated him to find a good spot this weekend.
Thamidhapati, who moved from India in December, said she’s only seen changing foliage like this once before — in New Jersey — but there weren’t nearly as many trees there.
Likewise, John and Alce Worang were in Denver visiting their daughter. The two are from Indonesia, where they said the foliage doesn’t change colors. Thus, seeing the fall colors was a very nice experience.
The Worangs have been leaf-peeping before on previous visits, but it was their first time at Silverdale.
South Carolina’s Lian Nguyen and North Carolina’s Leo Le made a whole day of leaf-peeping. They had lunch in Georgetown, took some photos near the Silverdale trailhead and were planning to go on an early evening hike to enjoy all the colors that weren’t visible from the road.
Nguyen and Le are both visiting a friend in Denver and planned to continue leaf-peeping during their stay.
Overall, they said the scenery was beautiful and amazing.
Nguyen explained how South Carolina has mountains and changing foliage of its own, but the vistas aren’t quite like Colorado’s.
Contrastingly, Thornton’s Kim Thomsen has visited Guanella Pass every year with her family, saying, “It’s our favorite fall tradition.”
On Saturday, she was exploring Silverdale and the Guanella Pass area with her daughters — 7-year-old Arya and 5-year-old Evelyn — and their friend Josephine, 9.
Thomsen taught them about the science behind the changing colors, describing how the decreasing amount of light causes the trees to stop producing chlorophyll.
Given the dry conditions and the likelihood of a shortened leaf-peeping season, Thomsen said she was thankful that she and the girls got to enjoy this year’s foliage.
Thus, Saturday’s performance came to an end. Before long, the colorful spectacle will be over for another year, and the annual gold curtain will fall.